Before we can cure stretch marks, let’s review how the body forms them. Stretch marks can occur when the lower levels of the skin are damaged and tear, causing lines of red or purple marks, which fade as time passes to white scarring. As with all scars, this causes a pockmarked effect on the skin, which is quite embarrassing, and most people with stretch marks hide them far from the light of day. Nobody knows whether or not they will get stretch marks, although the vast majority of women will suffer with them at some point in their lives.
Stretch mark prevention is better than cure, but how can you prevent something if you don’t know whether you’re going to suffer from it or not? Stretch marks tend to occur during hormonal imbalance, such as pregnancy. In this case, they usually form around the abdomen, where the growing fetus puts the skin under much pressure. The hormones that rage throughout the body for the whole gestation period also increase the likelihood of skin damage.
You can do a few things to increase your odds to cure stretch marks, and most of these classify as common sense. The skin is the largest organ in the body and is affected by everything you do and eat and drink. If you are not drinking enough water, your skin will suffer and become dry and flaky; many people wonder how much water they should be drinking.
I have found the best way of guarding against dehydration is to keep an eye on the color of your urine. If urine is colorless or very pale, that’s proof you’re drinking enough; any darker color than that, and you need to drink more. Also, water can help cure stretch marks naturally, so be sure to focus on keeping hydrated.
If your urine is very dark in color and has a strong smell, then you may be dehydrated, and water alone may not be enough to rehydrate you. In this case, you should add some of the special rehydration mixtures produced for athletes, which contain the correct proportions of electrolytes that your body needs. Becoming severely dehydrated is dangerous as it can cause collapse and shut down your internal organs.
It is always good to keep water handy and sip regularly throughout the day. Tea and coffee count too, but too much coffee should be avoided as caffeine can cause dehydration and add to the dryness of the skin. Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables and moderate amounts of lean protein will radically improve the health of your skin and assist you in your quest to cure old stretch marks.
You should avoid junk and processed foods and aim to eat a rainbow of colors in fruit and vegetables every day. This way, your whole body will be nourished, and your skin will be healthy, glowing, and supple – and you will be much less likely to suffer from stretch marks.
Most people, especially women, develop stretch marks sooner or later. My first experience of stretch marks was after my eldest child, and I was horrified to see that my nice flat smooth tummy was no more and was now lined, ‘lumpy’ and ugly and did nothing to ease the postnatal depression from which I was suffering.
I had two more children in reasonably quick succession, and although I returned to my previous weight and had relatively the same shape, the stretch marks were there in all their glory and had also appeared on my inner thighs. I decided that there wasn’t much I could do about it and then discovered plenty of things I could try.
Having three small children and a home to run meant very little time to spend on myself and even less money. Exercise is essential (and I got plenty of that), and a healthy diet is too, as it promotes healthy skin, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. I discovered that foods with an abundance of zinc, such as fish; high protein foods, such as eggs; and foods loaded in vitamins A and C such as citrus fruits, vegetables like carrots, and milk were very beneficial.
Stretch marks appear not only during and after pregnancy but are not confined to women. They can be found on the upper arms, hips, and lower back. They also appear overweight, have lost weight, or in very muscular people whose skin is stretched. This is because we have three layers of skin, and stretch marks occur in the middle layer, which, when stretched, loses its elasticity and breaks down, leaving stretch marks. Basically, anything that causes stress in the body or changes shape can result in stretch marks that start as purple/pinkish or color and then, in time, change to white/silver. However, they will disappear with a bit of t l c and a healthy diet, and we won’t have to worry about the color!
A stretch mark is a scar
Scars occur when the skin is injured and then repairs itself. In the case of stretch marks, the injury occurs when the skin stretches or shrinks too quickly. This can happen, for example, when you build muscles, gain weight fast or lose it suddenly. The sudden change causes collagen and elastin, which support the connective tissue under the skin, to be destroyed. As the skin heals these injuries, scars develop that we call stretch marks. Of course, not everyone develops these narrow “bands” on their skin. Fluctuating hormone levels seem to play a role. And women have them significantly more often than men. That’s because women’s connective tissue is more stretchy than men’s. And that, in turn, has something to do with pregnancies. But more about that below.
The appearance of stretch marks can vary.
Stretch marks can look very different from person to person. Some people develop a few long, thin and light lines, while others stretch marks appear extensive. In fair-skinned people, the lines are usually reddish or purple at first and fade over time until they are white. In people with darker skin, stretch marks look generally lighter than their skin color, even in the early stages. Bright red, red, or purple stretch marks are new and still trying to heal themselves. Doctors believe this type of stretch mark is easier to treat with oils, creams, or even lasers. White stretch marks have already developed into fully formed scars, making treatment much more difficult.
Early stretch marks may feel slightly raised and itch. Over time, the color fades, and the narrow bands sink below the average skin level. If you run your finger over an already scarred stretch mark, you can often feel a slight indentation. Stretch marks do not represent a health problem at any stage. They are natural and harmless. But for women who want them to, if not disappear, at least fade, it might be of interest to know that the window for effective medical treatment is not that large.
Pregnancy is the most common cause of stretch marks.
Stretch marks are medically referred to as striae gravidarum, actually stretch marks. This is because the female connective tissue under the skin is more elastic and prone to stretching, mainly because it is the only way the female body can withstand the bulges and stretches of pregnancy. As the fetus grows in the abdomen, the breasts enlarge (to prepare for milk production) and the thighs, hips, lower back, and buttocks. In addition to the stretching of the skin in these regions, it appears that the altered hormonal balance of women during this time is also responsible for the stretch marks that appear later. Researchers believe pregnancy hormones reduce the skin’s elastin content and destroy collagen, making the skin much more prone to cracking and resulting scars.
Teenagers and bodybuilders are also familiar with stretch marks.
As we all know, children seem to grow at an astonishing rate during their teenage years, and by tomorrow they no longer fit into the clothes you bought them today. However, the rapid and dramatic growth spurt during puberty can also have consequences for the body’s clothing, namely the skin. The skin must stretch or shrink to accommodate the rapid changes in body shape. Bodybuilders are also not unfamiliar with the issue of “stretch marks.” For them, various parts of the body can grow and shrink again quickly due to training or just not training. Stretch marks on the skin are also the result here. However, skin type and genetics also play a not insignificant role in developing stretch marks. Not all people are susceptible to stretch marks to the same extent, and they can also be inherited.
Some creams can also be the reason for stretch marks.
Creams or ointments with a high corticosteroid content can be bought over the counter. Corticosteroids are contained in cortisol but also various sex hormones. If these products are applied to the skin for too long or too intensively, they can break down the connecting fibers. This also leads to the formation of stretch marks. Anyone using a corticosteroid ointment or cream should talk to their doctor or pharmacist about the safe dose for their health. Taking oral corticosteroids such as prednisone can have a similar effect. Prednisone is converted to prednisolone in the liver and is particularly helpful against rheumatic diseases or chronic inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease. Pathological cortisol overproduction (e.g., Cushing’s syndrome) or pathological connective tissue disorders (e.g., Marfan syndrome) can also lead to stretch marks in women AND men.
Stretch marks cannot be prevented.
Despite promises contrary, stretch marks cannot be prevented – provided the skin is stretched. Because if the skin stretches for the first time for the reasons described above, cracks and injuries will inevitably occur, which will also scar. Therefore, the only chance to prevent stretch marks is either not to get pregnant or to avoid significant fluctuations in weight or muscle volume. The skin can only be cared for BEFORE stretching so that it is a little better prepared for more significant stresses in the future. Perfect for this are, for example, alternating showers (in the morning alternating five times warm and five times turn to cold), which train the vessels and promote blood circulation. While showering, massages, for example, with an exfoliating glove, are also suitable for tightening the connective tissue. What also prepares the skin better for stretching is sports. Perfect for prevention against stretch marks are especially swimming, cycling, yoga, and walking. Finally, plucking massages are recommended. In this case, the previously well-oiled skin is carefully pulled up and rolled between the fingers before going to bed.
Losing weight does not help against stretch marks.
Rapid weight gain causing stretch marks doesn’t mean that shedding the pounds will make them disappear. When the fat melts, the previously overstretched skin doesn’t magically disappear simultaneously.
Stretch marks affect the ego. Think positive!!!
While they can be a bit itchy and inflamed in the worst-case scenario, stretch marks are not a threat to physical well-being. Of course, they can always be a sign of a more severe problem, but the only real damage they can do is to the ego. The best thing to remember is that anyone can get them, and therefore they are perfectly normal! Body positivity is also the game’s name when it comes to stretch marks for both sexes. Let go of your ego and love your skin just like it is. Only those who proudly “wear their skin to market” will also allow others to accept it.
How does the treatment of stretch marks by laser work?
Laser therapy is another method to reduce the visibility of striae. To treat stretch marks, dermatologists use a laser in this therapy, whose rays cause minor injuries in the tissue.
During this outpatient treatment, the body is stimulated to produce more collagen and release it into the tiny wounds created to heal them. Collagen is made up of elastic fibers that cause the skin’s appearance to look more even and the stretch marks to fade after the treatment.
Since it takes time for the treated tissue to regenerate, the final result is visible only after about a year.
Although this method is hardly associated with pain, dermatologists offer an anesthetic ointment before the treatment. After the therapy, redness or swelling may occur in the treated areas, and small crusts may also form in isolated cases, but these are short-lived and heal quickly.
How does a chemical peel for stretch marks work?
During chemical peels, the top layer of the skin is loosened to be renewed, and fresh, regenerated skin is revealed. As a result, bumps, pigmentation marks, small scars, and wrinkles can be noticeably reduced. Although stretch marks cannot be completely removed with a chemical peel, a peel can help to make stretch marks less visible.
Chemical peels contain unique acids such as fruit acid or trichloroacetic acid, which allow dermatologists to use either a simple, medium-deep, or deep approach. Your doctor will decide which form of application is suitable for you during the preliminary examination. Still, doctors usually choose strong peels, especially scars, to achieve a visible effect.
During the treatment, your dermatologist will apply a thin peeling layer to the affected areas. The application lasts only a short time because the acid must not remain on the skin for too long. Afterward, the acid is rinsed from the skin, and a protective cream is applied to moisturize the skin.
The treatment is not painful, but there may be a slight burning sensation. Redness and sensitive skin are expected after the peel and nothing to worry about. If there is little scarring, you can see an effect after just one treatment, but several sessions are necessary in many cases. The more often you repeat the chemical peeling, the more your stretch marks will fade – however, a complete removal is very unlikely. You must have chemical peeling performed only by well-trained dermatologists because the acid can cause severe burns, burns, and scars if the treatment is not performed correctly.
When is mesotherapy recommended for stretch marks?
Mesotherapy uses individually formulated active ingredients that a doctor injects with fine, short needles into the skin. During a preliminary examination, your dermatologist analyzes the affected areas of skin and then decides on a combination of active ingredients adapted to you. He then injects this directly into the affected areas with a small needle. Since the punctures are only a few millimeters deep, the treatment is painless, but you can still ask your doctor for a local anesthetic before the therapy.
Since the method is low-risk, there are usually no side effects when used correctly, and the likelihood of complications is also extremely low. However, mesotherapy can also only help to temporarily make the stretch marks visible, as the needle pricks or the roller stimulates collagen production, which in turn stabilizes the skin – however, experts know that mesotherapy does not bring the desired results success with stretch marks.
How can stretch marks be treated with carboxytherapy?
Carboxytherapy is a treatment option performed by dermatologists either independently or in combination with mesotherapy because its circulatory and stimulating effect optimally prepares the skin for mesotherapy injections. However, carboxytherapy treatment alone is also beneficial and can help flatten and fade stretch marks.
Which creams can be used to treat stretch marks?
Manufacturers often advertise creams that are supposed to remove stretch marks successfully. These are supposed to increase the skin’s elasticity and thus help the small cracks in the skin heal better and, as a result, are less visible. However, scientific studies show that these products do not help with stretch marks.
You can also ask your dermatologist for a vitamin A ointment. This is only available on prescription, but it can help to reduce the small scars that stretch across the tissue due to stretch marks. Although vitamin A ointment does provide symptom relief, caution is advised as you must not use it during pregnancy or breastfeeding as it could harm the unborn child.
What other treatments work against stretch marks?
Patients often ask whether other methods such as ultrasound therapy, cryotherapy, or radiofrequency therapy can help with stretch marks. Even though these methods are quite helpful in various applications, they cannot permanently remove stretch marks. With ultrasound therapy, you will only see the stretch marks less during the treatment and for about two weeks afterward because the treated area is swollen. If these swellings go down, the stretch marks will also be visible again. Cryotherapy is also not recommended to treat stretch marks, as it only takes the pressure off the tissue and does not improve the cracks in the skin. During treatment with radiofrequency therapy, the tissue is supplied with more blood, which means that the stretch marks are not visible – if this effect wears off, the small cracks reappear.
Can I conceal my stretch marks with a tattoo?
Recently, the possibility of hiding stretch marks with tattoos has become popular. Tattoo artists who specialize in permanent makeup offer this novel method. In the process, the stretch marks are first treated in several sessions using micro-needling to stimulate collagen production and thus the skin’s self-healing. Then, in a further step, the still visible stretch marks are tattooed in the patient’s color tone, and the scarred skin is thus color-matched to the skin tone of the rest of the body. Although this method promises excellent results, it is very expensive and often not offered.
Stretch marks: Can I conceal my stretch marks with a tattoo?
What else can I do against stretch marks?
In addition to the treatments you can have performed by a dermatologist to reduce the visibility of your stretch marks, you can, of course, also take measures yourself to support your skin and thus minimize the appearance of the stripes. These include, for example, regular massages or an application with a derma roller. You can do this yourself at home and thus increase the blood circulation of your skin. Furthermore, you can make an essential contribution to keeping your skin elastic and preventing the development of stripes by exercising and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
You can also use a self-tanner to conceal the fine cracks in your skin because stretch marks are less visible on tanned skin.
Are there any home remedies for stretch marks?
If you suffer from stretch marks and want to fight them, you can resort to various home remedies that promise to alleviate their appearance.
These include, for example, regular massages. You can perform a so-called plucking massage by gently pulling small skin rolls upwards with your thumb and index finger. This stimulates the blood circulation in your skin and gives your connective tissue additional elasticity.
Oils are also said to help reduce stretch marks. Castor oil or calendula ointment is particularly recommended, but you can also use cellulite oils, almond oil, or coconut oil from the drugstore. To give the treatment a peeling effect, you can add some sugar to the oil and apply the mixture in circular movements.
In addition to various oils, you can also use cocoa butter, which has skin-rejuvenating and healing properties. Fresh egg white can also moisturize the skin and is considered a home remedy for stretch marks. You can apply this to the affected areas, leave it on for a short while and then rinse it off. This will hydrate your skin and reduce the visual appearance of the annoying stripes.
Furthermore, you can use lemon juice to treat your stretch marks. Squeeze a lemon and rub the juice into the affected areas twice a day for about ten minutes. Of course, you must rinse off the juice well afterward, especially before you go into the sun, because otherwise, it can come to injuries on your skin due to the UV radiation.
Aloe vera is also an effective home remedy. If you massage the plant’s gel into your skin for about fifteen minutes every day and then wash it off with lukewarm water, you can use it to get relief from striae.
The effect of home remedies against stretch marks is not clinically proven. However, since these methods are low-risk and largely free of side effects, you can still try to reduce the appearance of your stretch marks.
How can I prevent stretch marks?
There are several ways to prevent stretch marks. First of all, you must maintain your weight as much as possible, because if you gain a lot of weight in a short time, your skin will be stretched, and stretch marks will appear.
Furthermore, you should always take care of your skin and moisturize it so that it does not lose elasticity and you do not get stretch marks even in case of weight gain or pregnancy. For this purpose, you can use various creams, oils, and lotions; the main thing is that you take good care of your skin and moisturize it.
You can also strengthen your tissues with a healthy diet and sufficient hydration, as well as integrate sports into your daily routine. Dry brush massages with massage gloves, plucking and kneading massages, and alternating showers can also help keep your skin elastic and prevent stretch marks from forming. You can also prevent stretch marks on your breasts by wearing a well-fitting bra that protects your breast tissue.
At a glance:
Adequate moisturizing for the skin
Healthy diet & adequate hydration
Dry brushing, plucking & kneading massages
Well-fitting bra to protect the breast tissue
However, these measures are only methods that can prevent the development of striae; they cannot be completely prevented despite precautions. Whether you are more prone to stretch marks than other people depends on external factors and genetic factors.
How do stretch marks develop?
Stretch marks form when the connective tissue is stretched too much and the elastic fibers of the subcutaneous tissue tear. This overstretching occurs when a lot of weight is gained in a short time, for example, in the case of rapid fat gain, obesity with disturbed hormone production, or strong muscle building, for instance, through bodybuilding. In addition, stretch marks can occur in adolescents during puberty when they grow rapidly. The skin is not elastic enough for the rapid size growth and tears. This can also happen due to breast augmentation because if an implant is inserted that stretches the skin too much due to its size, striae can form.
One of the most common causes of stretch marks is also pregnancy. Especially in the second half of pregnancy, many women notice small cracks in the skin. In medicine, stretch marks that appear during pregnancy are considered separately and therefore have their name. Doctors refer to them as “striae gravidarum”, while they are known as “stretch marks” in the vernacular.
However, the overstretching of the skin can also be due to other causes, including hormone treatments or prolonged applications of cortisone.
What diseases can stretch marks indicate?
In addition to the above possibilities, stretch marks may have formed due to an underlying medical condition. These include infections such as typhus, typhoid fever, or tuberculosis, and the so-called Cushing’s syndrome, in which there is an abnormally increased production of cortisol by the adrenal glands in the body.